“This Wine Is Rubbish”…well, not really!

From the "Be Careful What You Say" File:

Decanter reports that a maker of Portuguese wine Vida Nova was provoked by his host on a British TV show to denounce his own wine as "That’s rubbish. I wouldn’t pay for that, it’s tainted, it’s insipid. It tastes like vinaigrette. I’d never buy that."


Of course it was a blind tasting. The winemaker, Cliff Richard, should have known better.

But what’s more interesting is how this episode in self emulation points to the usefulness of excuses in the world of wine and wine tasting. The article quotes "a veteran observer" (what’s that) as coming to Richard’s defense this way:

"’The first wine Ramsay gave him was a £400 claret. Of course a
Portuguese table wine, made from five-year-old vines, is going to taste
rough after that. It’s a classic wine industry sting."

Not really. If the Portuguese wine was decent any good winemaker or winery owner really should have the wherewithal to detect its decentness…no matter what wine came before it. The difference between "decent" and "rubbish" is a pretty long hike.

This happens a lot in the wine business and among tasters who have even the smallest interest or state in a wine that doesn’t show well. The excuses are many and varied:

"It’s in a dumb phase"
"The wine is closed up right now"
"Clearly this wine is in bottle shock."
"His wines always need a good three years to show its stuff"
"It’s not a wine that is made to age"
"I shouldn’t have had that candy bar this morning before tasting"

There is something to be said for studiously avoiding situations in which you might be called upon to pronounce judgment on your own spawn, or even put your creation anywhere near a call for judgment. I’m reminded of the CA vintners who, apparently, didn’t want to have their wines tasted alongside other wines in the recent 30th anniversary re-staging of the Paris Tasting of 1976. They had nothing to gain and everything to lose.

The problem with this attitude is that it leads to blandness, extreme diplomacy, and cavity inducing courteousness. It’s just not fun to watch, read or listen to someone say sweet things about everyone or avoid all possibility of uncomfortable tension.

So the question is: How can one be bold and safe at the same time? The answer is to be astute, learned and experienced in all areas you wish to make pronouncements upon. Richards should have been able to taste his wine and know his wine blind.

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